The Toronto Comic Arts Festival celebrates its 10th birthday this weekend with a truly stellar lineup of guests and an amazing array of events. The list of creators who will be there is impressive in both its quality and its breadth: Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, David B., Taiyo Matsumoto, Rutu Modan, Frederik Peeters, Paul Pope, Bryan Lee O'Malley, Hope Larson, Faith Erin Hicks, Derf Backderf, Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, a roll call that goes from living legends to plucky creators making their own comics zines by hand.
The list of debuting graphic novels could be a cheat sheet for next year's Eisner Awards. There's a host of small, well-respected publishers as well: Top Shelf, Koyama Press, Ad House, Picturebox, Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, and many more.
TCAF is a festival, not a comics convention, and it embraces a variety of events, including a special day of programming for librarians and teachers, activities for children, panels, something called Comics vs. Games, a gallery show of Mastumoto's work, and all manner of parties. All this packed into two days and offered to the public for free.
I honestly don't know how they do it. This will be my first year at TCAF, and I'm looking forward to experiencing it but already a bit overwhelmed by all that is on offer. All I can say is, everyone says it's the best show of the year, and nothing I have seen so far has contradicted that. If you're anywhere near Toronto — or if, like me, you're not but you're motivated — it's well worth checking out.